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Issues Archives: History Questions

March – April, 2006

Exceeding the Love of Women

Susan Ackerman, a respected biblical scholar who currently chairs the religious studies department at Dartmouth College, brings to her study of the David and Gilgamesh narratives two important qualities: a knowledge of ancient languages that allows her to explore the emotional coloring and sexual associations of key words, and a thorough grounding in contemporary gender theory, which allows her to negotiate the essentialist-constructionist debate concerning the evolution of gay identity.

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How ‘The 70s’ Became a Morality Play

IS IT POSSIBLE to talk about gay sex in the 1970’s without talking about hiv/aids in the 1980’s? Are we justified in presenting the 70’s as the decade in which gay men had anonymous sex in public parks, backrooms, and bathhouses, all under the guise of “gay liberation”? The release of a new documentary, Gay Sex in the 70s, raises these and other questions.

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The Human Comedy Begins at Home

… Savage has been partnered for ten years with his boyfriend Terry, with whom he adopted their son D.J., who’s now six years old. Savage recounted that tale in his award-winning memoir The Kid. His new book, The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family, looks back over the evolution of his relationship and contemplates from various angles the topic that may be this decade’s most heated and divisive one. …

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Not a Trifling Romance

While Lynch is a master storyteller and Sweet Creek’s good-versus-evil plot makes it a page turner, the characters are so vividly drawn as to overshadow the action of the book. So interesting are their inner lives that one suspects Lynch’s storylines are merely an excuse to delve into the human soul.

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On ‘Coming Out’ as a Jew

LEV RAPHAEL was one of the first writers to contemplate the intersection of being openly gay and being openly Jewish, and has now published two new books on the topic. For those not familiar with his short story collection of 1990, Dancing on Tisha b’Av (whose title was a play on the concept of fasting on holy day), Secret Anniversaries of the Heart is a wonderful introduction to this writer’s world. About ten of the 25 stories are reprinted from Dancing on Tisha b’Av.

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Was Islam Ever Accepting?

While bringing to life the vibrant homoerotic tradition in Islamic culture, El-Rouayheb concludes that male same-sex desire was not the same as our current understanding of homosexuality, but rather something else, and that “sodomitical” acts were intensely problematical during this 300-year period, just as they are today.

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Tales of a Longtime Survivor

… Let’s Shut Out the World, a collection of essays, stories, and other short works arranged more-or-less chronologically to come together as a kind of memoir and autobiography. Most of the pieces have appeared in other publications and in anthologies such as the popular His and Flesh and the Word series.

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Grief: A Novel

STANDING IN LINE for Brokeback Mountain the afternoon it opened in Washington at a little theater near Dupont Circle, I saw two kinds of people: silent gay men of a certain age, and clusters of laughing college students. For the former, the movie we were about to see was personal, crucial; for the students, I […]

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The American Diaspora

IN LIPSHITZ SIX, or Two Angry Blondes, T Cooper writes the story of four generations of the Lipshitz family. In 1903, after an especially horrific pogrom, Hersh and Esther and their four children emigrate from Kishinev, Russia, to the United States.

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Israel: Island of Tolerance in the Mideast

I AM STRUCK by those on the left whose hostility to Israel is so total that they ignore the fact that, by the values important to liberals, conditions inside Israel are greatly superior to those within any of its Arab neighbors. This does not mean that one needs to agree with Israel’s position on Israeli-Arab issues.

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